The Best Damn Live Albums Ever - Scapp70's favorites!Oct 20, 2010 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line My top 50 favorite live albums
This list took me a long time to write, rewrite and then finally finish. To cover as many bands and artists as I can I made a rule to only include one live album per artist, unlike most of the other "best of" lists out there on the internet and in print. You're bound to find some of the same albums here as well, but there are some included here that aren't anywhere as well. These are just my tastes with my own opinions written down here for you to read. I hope you enjoy, feel free to comment. - Michael Scapp
1. AC/DC - Live, (1992).
The first live album released after their first lead singer Bon Scott had died from overdose. The original band had released their first live album at the end of 1978, yet no matter how popular AC/DC are, many folks wouldn't recognize most of the titles of their early years. When Bon Scott died and they incorporated new lead vocalist Brian Johnson along with producer Mutt Lange they have created their biggest seller Back In Black. Every album released since has been a carbon copy of this winning formula and by the time they released Live twelve years later, they had enough big hits to make up much of this great live album. Nine of the fourteen songs were from the Brian Johnson era, which is mostly what the fans want to hear anyway, while reprising energetic versions of those classic Bon Scott gems as well. While I would have preferred a live version of Have a Drink On Me, I can't complain about this set list at all. On this version, and even the 2-disc version they hit all the right spots, which highlight their career. Each song reminds the listener why they bought their live album in the first place.
2. Aerosmith - Live Bootleg, (1978).
The American hard rock band Aerosmith earned themselves a reputation early on in their careers of an amazing live act. The bluesy-riffs coupled with the flawless raspy lead vocals of Steve Tyler is a winning combination already, but when you add in that the band has great material to work with, you know you'll be treated to one of the best live shows in rock. Live Bootleg is a pastiche of many shows from a small club to a big venue. Each and every song has its draw, but my favorites are Dream On, Train Kept a Rollin', Sick as a Dog, Last Child and the opener Back in the Saddle. When Steven Tyler sings Dream On, it still makes the hairs on my arms stand on end. Out of all these albums listed here, Live Bootleg is the definition of live raw rock and roll.
3. Allman Brothers Band - Live at Fillmore East, (1971).
"Wake up mama, turn yo lamp down low..." Southern rock jam band, The Allman Brothers Band was a relatively new band on the scene when they released their first double live album. Their debut, The Allman Brothers Band, was released late 1969 followed by Idlewild South, which was released late 1970. Live at Fillmore East was next, which originally consisted of two discs; the first was live renditions of songs that weren't present on their first two discs. Statesboro Blues is perhaps the most well known out of these, a number of pure blues, gritty vocals, squealing guitar and honky-tonk piano. As a live band, this group would always extend their music into really long jams. The emotional Whipping Post (which used to take up all of Side four) runs a tad over 23 minutes by itself. If you're into these types of blues/jazz jams, then Live at the Fillmore East will be your cup of tea.
4. The Beatles - Live At The BBC, (1994).
1994 was the year that the powers that be at Apple and EMI began delving into the vast Beatles archives to give the fans a whole bunch of a good thing starting with this CD Live at the BBC and then of course onto the 6-disc Anthology series that also contained some great live tracks by the way. Live at the BBC is an awesome two disc set that houses many of the sessions that the band had recorded live at the BBC studios over the three years (1962 - 1965) they had performed for the radio show. Some of the tracks showcase the raw power and prowess The Beatles possessed as a live band, for a fine example of this listen to Keep Your Hands Off My Baby or Some Other Guy. Also a shining moment is the ne'er before released Beatles track I'll Be On My Way, a song written for another band Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas.
Other highlights include: Things We Said Today, I'm a Loser, Ticket to Ride and Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby.
5. Pat Benatar - Live From Earth, (1983).
By 1983, female rocker Pat Benatar had a small but powerful collection of hit albums "notched into her lipstick case." She was an artist with the capability of selling multi-platinum albums, and so in 1983 she released her first and only live album (as far as I know) called Live From Earth. The album contains songs that may contend with her studio versions, and a couple do admittedly fall flat, so it is her first album that probably wouldn't have sold that well, if it weren't were her biggest hit single Love is a Battlefield which was included as a bonus studio track. Vocally, I think that Pat is the greatest female rock singer ever and so I would wait for those "wow" moments in this live setting. Certainly Hell is For Children and Promises and the Dark deliver, however by the time we get to Heartbreaker, her voice seems to have slightly tuckered out. The album only has eight live tracks, and only about five of them were big hits. I personally would have preferred Shadows of the Night rather than I Want Out, but it is what it is. One thing is for sure, if it weren't for the studio track Love is a Battlefield, no one would have given this a second listen.
6. Black Sabbath - Past Lives, (2002).
Black Sabbath live with Ozzy from their heyday is beautifully captured here in this live compilation double disc package. These eighteen tracks were taken from three different shows from three different countries. The black and white cover emits the correct vibe of classic Sabbath, and the biggest draw for me was the outstanding crunching sound that is present on every song, even the five songs from 1970. It is absolutely live with the off-key and out of tune moments left in, yet it doesn't even take away from the awesomeness of this CD. It is basically a greatest hits live, yet with a few rarer gems thrown in as well. The fact that it has a live version of Hole in the Sky is enough for me to own this, yet the wealth of awesome classic performances from the original Sabbath deserves a head-thrashing nod on this list as well.
7. Bon Jovi -One Wild Night Live, 1985-2001, (2001).
Most likely as an homage to Springsteen's live box set (1975-1985), Jon Bongiovi symbolically takes over where Bruce left off by setting his 16-year stretch with an origin of 1985. Very skimpy in comparison to Bruce Springsteen's box set, Bon Jovi's release only includes 15 songs. Also, the title is a bit misleading as 7 of these tracks were recorded on his then recent tour in 2000, only one in 2001 (which isn't even live), but even worse is there are only two songs that were included from his 1980s heyday. Despite the obvious shortcomings, this is (so far) the only live album from the Jersey-infatuated band. The highpoint is probably the fact that the performances were taken from shows he performed all around the globe. Bon Jovi more often than not excluded songs from the very era that landed them as a force in the world of rock music, yet there are enough highlights here to make the list: Wanted Dead or Alive, In and Out of Love, Something To Believe In.
8. David Bowie - David Live, (1974).
Everyone's favorite Bowie era is most likely from this early classic rock, Ziggy era. On his first live album David Live, there are plenty of the old classic Bowie songs here to please most. From Changes to Rebel Rebel to Jean Genie to Suffragette City, this live album covers the most creative time in Bowie's career very well. The 2005 version of the compact disc has a few bonus tracks not found on the original 1974 release including a long version of Space Oddity. Although, for most of these tracks he utilized his more commercial recent singles and such from then recent releases (like Diamond Dogs), but for brief moments he delves back into his even odder past. He pulls out The Width of a Circle and even covers one his own All the Young Dudes, which was released by Mott The Hoople in 1972. The highlights include the songs I mentioned above.
9. Jackson Browne - Running On Empty, (1977).
Jackson Browne's live album from 1977 is probably the strangest amongst all of the others in this list. It's not that the music is odd, but it stands out as it's an album full of new material and some covers from the singer/songwriter but performed live on the road at different venues, hotel rooms and even aboard his tour bus. What's also kind of cool is that some of the songs have to do with being on the road. This was a very successful album released in the midst of his commercial peak. Some of these tracks are classic rock radio staples, especially the songs recorded in Maryland on 08/27/1977. There's Running On Empty, The Load-Out / Stay. Other highlights include Rosie and Shaky Town. I own the rare DVD-Audio version, which includes two more songs.
10. James Brown, Live at the Apollo, (1963).
The Godfather of Soul captured live seems like an easy winning situation today for a record label to get behind, but back in 1962 when Brown recorded this, his label King thought this was too risky. Brown even footed the bill to record the show at the Apollo on October 24th, 1962, but King still did not want to "gamble" on such an investment. Luckily for us, they gave in and now we have a shining footnote in the history of popular music for us to digest whenever we wish. The album sold very well to King's surprise, and almost topped the charts at one point stalling at #2 on the Top Album Charts. From the funked out cover version of Think, to the Smokey Robinson-esque Try Me and finally the powerful medley of ten songs really blows the roof off of the Apollo. James Brown tried to recapture the success he had with some sequels to Live at the Apollo, but they all fail to recapture the magic of this first Apollo live set. My favorite song is the so bluesy- I'll Go Crazy.
11. Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison, (1968).
"Hello, I'm Johnny Cash"...Country/rockabilly American artist Johnny Cash wanted to perform at a prison for some years before he finally had done in 1968 at Folsom Prison in Sacramento, California. His record company Columbia didn't really show any interest in recording a live album in a prison, and especially for troubled drug addict whose career hasn't been crossing over so well for the past few years. It looked like Cash's idea paid off well since At Folsom Prison nearly cracked the Top 10 on the Pop Charts. A lot of the album's charm is the wildly receptive audience who seemed to hand on every word of songs like Cocaine Blues, Dirty Old Egg-Suckin' Dog and of course the amazing Folsom Prison Blues. Some fine highlights include Jackson, Joe Bean & Busted.
12. Cheap Trick - Cheap Trick at Budokan, (1979).
Like most western rock bands, Cheap Trick finds early success in the east, Japan. Budokan has been one of those aspiring places to play for up and coming rock stars ever since The Beatles first played there in the Summer of 1966. The Fab Four may have been the first, but they certainly were not the last. Cheap Trick's live disc At Budokan, had put the arena into the consciousness of rock music fans thirteen years later when their multiplatinum, high-energy live concert was released in 1979. These live versions of I Want You To Want Me and Surrender can be heard just about every day on some classic rock station. Yet, there are a handful of great songs as well, including Ain't That a Shame, Come On, Come On, and Clock Strikes Ten. The band has re-released this LP so many times that you can now buy the extended version that grew from 10 songs to 20, and also with an accompanying DVD.
13. Sam Cooke - At the Harlem Square Club 1963, (1985).
This legendary musician/vocalist/songwriter is hands down the best R&B artist, who had spawned many a-wannabe cheap copies, well in comparison to the man anyway. Almost two years before Cooke was shot and killed in a hotel in California, he recorded this much-hailed live album of pure soul highlighting some of his hits including Twisting the Night Away, Having a Party and the amazing Bring It On Home To Me. The way that Cooke is able to take control of the (willing) audience in songs like Chain Gang is hypnotizing. Every song is a highlight, and the only downside I can think of is that he hadn't written his greatest song A Change Is Gonna Come yet and therefore wasn't included.
14. John Denver - An Evening With John Denver, (1975).
I haven't acquired this double CD until recently, and it instantly became one of my favorite live albums ever. John Denver already has a great wealth of material from his studio albums to work with and since here during these concerts he was backed by a full orchestra conducted by Lee Holdridge (an award winning musician), it sounds even fuller and richer than his studio albums. This double CD, released finally in 2001 also has a bonus six songs that were recorded from a Colorado performance from a year before the main concerts were recorded. This double CD is the ultimate introduction to Denver's music since this is much more than his dozen or so greatest hits. Included is a cover of The Beatles Mother Nature's Son, some fantastic deep cuts like Annie's Other Song, Forest Lawn, Grandma's Feather Bed and his awesome classics like Annie's Song, Thank God I'm A Country Boy, Take Me Home, Country Roads and Rocky Mountain High. I like that the overall feeling seems to be family orientated, especially between songs banter from Denver.
15. Neil Diamond - Hot August Night, (1973).
This is a classic live album, and one of the earliest live releases from a pop artist. Although I love the Jazz Singer soundtrack, I can't deny the wonderful set list of Diamond's earlier work. Hot August Night was a great success for Diamond, especially in Australia where it remained at the Number One position for more than half the year there. Neil Diamond makes the statement here how his concerts are set apart and different than the usual show as the opening classical number Prologue segues into the rocking Crunchy Granola Suite. Neil Diamond understood the iconic status of this live album, and almost 15 years later he released a sequel Hot August Night II, which now includes the best tracks from Jazz Singer. Some highlights include Sweet Caroline, Red, Red Wine, and Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon.
16. The Eagles - Hell Freezes Over, (1994).
What is more exciting than your favorite band who had broken up years before have decided to bury the hatchet and regroup? Obviously, Eagles fans couldn't have been more excited by the new reconciliation as Hell Freezes Overshot to the top of the album charts upon release. The band gets wonderfully reminiscent about their back catalog, yet they also give the fans four new Eagles songs to digest as well. Hell Freezes Over enjoyed not only great sales, but also many format releases. The DVD and VHS versions were a fine accompaniment to the CD release, but also their DVD-Audio version released in a quality 5.1 DTS surround sound format was a fine gem in the reunion crown. The DVD-Audio also contained some extra tracks that the CD hadn't included. The highlights: I Can't Tell You Why, Desperado, an extended Hotel California and Life in the Fast Lane.
17. Faith No More - Live at Brixton Academy...(1991).
Like some other albums listed here, this is the only official live release from the band. It would have been light years better if it were released at least five years later with material pulled from the Angel Dust and King For a Day..Fool For a Lifetime albums, but this will have to do. This is basically their multi-platinum album The Real Thing performed live except for two songs, Surprise! You're Dead and The Morning After. They also included one song each from the two albums that are pre-Mike Patton (lead singer). The band prove that they were a new force in metal at the time with their legitimate hybrid of metal and rap with their smash single Epic, but the best performances come from the other songs like From Out of Nowhere, Edge of the World and The Real Thing. Listen to their cover of Black Sabbath's War Pigs to be convinced of their awesome live performance.
18. Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace, (1972).
Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, and home to such a powerful voice. By the time of this release, she had already owned a string of top ten hits including Respect, Think, Chain of Fools, Natural Woman, I Say a Little Prayer, etc. Aretha had already release a good number of live albums, yet this was her first live album filled completely with Christian Gospel songs (with the possible exception of You've Got a Friend and You'll Never Walk Alone). This set was recorded live in California at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church; Aretha was backed by the amazing Southern California Community Choir and a very lively crowd. If you don't yet understand how Ms. Franklin has inspired vocalists from Whitney Houston to Freddie Mercury, take a listen to Mary Don't You Weep, How I Got Over and especially the spine tingling title track Amazing Grace. This is still the biggest selling Gospel album of all time, and for good reason.
19. George Harrison - The Concert For Bangladesh, (1972).
So, almost fourteen years earlier than the now infamous Live Aid, a Beatle had the idea to help a third world country via a benefit from a rock concert. This album was recorded over two shows that were both held on August 1st, 1971 at Madison Square Garden. The silent Beatle George Harrison, then full of confidence from the sales of his triple album solo album All Things Must Pass, had organized the concerts with the help of some of his famous rock and roll friends. To really enjoy this, you must excuse the many performances of Leon Russell and really focus on the songs from George Harrison and his band. The highlights include Something, Here Comes the Sun, Wah-Wah, It Don't Come Easy (w/Ringo in vocals), and My Sweet Lord.
20. Jimi Hendrix - Band of Gypsys, (1970).
After bass player Noel Redding quit The Experience, Billy Cox, a dude that Hendrix used to jam with while they were in the US Army together, replaced him. After drummer Mitch Mitchell couldn't fulfill some promotional dates with Jimi in late 1969, the two saw less and less of each other. One drummer that Jimi was jamming with along with Billy Cox was Buddy Miles. Purely through a business dispute and contractual obligations with a producer named Ed Chaplin, the Band of Gypsys was born. Jimi had to contractually make an album of new music but without The Experience band backing him. Well, since the two members of The Experience had already left a couple of months before anyway, he had a new line up that kind of fell into his lap. The stars aligned and the fate was sealed, Band of Gypsys was born. The band had rehearsed some material and then played a couple of shows at the Fillmore East. The songs for The Band of Gypsys album was taken from these shows, and the album consisted of six songs. From the opening song, Who Knows we have an awesome opening track with Hendrix and Buddy Miles sharing lead vocals. The guitar solos are fantastic, as well as Hendrix's amazing rhythm styles during the versus. Machine Gun is a favorite highlight for many fans of this album.
21. Iron Maiden - Live After Death, (1985).
Eddie lives! No I'm talking about Eddie and the Cruisers II, but Iron Maiden's first live album Live after Death. The heavy metal gods give their listeners nearly two hours (1998 version) of their best songs. It's hard to believe that Maiden has so many classic well-known songs in their repertoire at such an early date in their career. This 1985 vinyl release was updated with an extra disc of the unedited concert in 1998, but the original 13 tracks in the main draw anyway.
Aces High, 2 Minutes to Midnight, Rime of the Ancient Mariner and more are featured. The songs are very close to the studio versions except that lead singer Bruce Dickinson’s vocal is not as dynamic in this live setting. Yet the band sounds flawless overall, and with each song they remind their listeners why they are the heavy metal kings with their story like lyrics, their infectious guitar licks and the relentless backbone provided by Nico and Harris.
22. Billy Joel - 12 Gardens Live, (2006).
I know what you're saying, 'what about Songs in the Attic?' I prefer this gargantuan (in comparison) live album to S.I.T.A. because 12 Gardens Live is a concert given late in Joel's career where he and the audience are feeling more nostalgic and therefore there is a wealth of classic Joel tunes included here that couldn't have been listed on the SITA album. 32 songs that highlight every point in Billy Joel's career are present here, The Entertainer, Keeping the Faith, We Didn't Start the Fire, She's Always a Woman and many more. He even touches upon some lesser known songs like The Downeaster Alexa, and Everybody Loves You Now that either brings a new appreciation for songs we have forgotten or songs that sound new to us. The audience sounds more excited than ever as they listen to their favorite artist bring it all to the table.
23. Elton John - Here and There, (1976).
So early in John's career, yet it's not his first live album surprisingly. Yet, here in 1976 at the pinnacle of Elton's popularity and still close to his very creative years he gives us Here and There. The unimaginative album title is supposed to illustrate the fact that this album was recorded in two places, the small London venue Royal Festival Hall is here, while New York City's Madison Square Garden is there. The when by the way was recorded two years earlier in 1974. The original 1976 release gave us just nine songs of some of his most famous hits mixed with just a couple of deep cuts like Skyline Pigeon and the amazing Love Song which is even performed with Leslie Duncan who wrote the song. However, the extended re-release from 1989 is just awesome with more greats like Country Comfort, Take Me To the Pilot, and on the there disc we get the whole three-song set with John Lennon guest starring in his last live performance. Elton at this point was still young enough and possessing the enthusiasm to hit those high notes which would never be attempted again sadly on his live records released later in his career. This is surely a must-have!
24. Journey - Greatest Hits Live, (1998).
Ten years earlier from this release, Journey had released their first greatest hits album named Greatest Hits, and here they pretty much included the same songs and released it again in a live setting. Journey is a band that was truly awesome live; Steve Perry's vocals were sometimes even more dynamic as it was filled with energy fueled by the audience participation. This compilation of songs was taken from performances from the band's ultimate heyday from 1981 to 1983. The majority of the material was pulled from their two 1981 releases Captured and ESC4P3, which is fine although I would have preferred a couple of more tracks from Frontiers. At the very least, it would have been nice to have Chain Reaction included instead of Still They Ride for instance. Yet this is insignificant nonsense as you listen to Perry's unreal delivery on songs like Don't Stop Believin' and Faithfully. Guitarist Neal Schon also just shines on the guitar on songs like Stone in Love and After the Fall. The band's combination on 80s rock ballads and hard rock peaked on these three albums, and the audience seems to be out of the minds excited and happy (despite being sonically subjected to the far background) to witness these superstars at their best.
25. Judas Priest - Priest...Live! (1987).
Priest is a band that has completely overhauled their sound from their 1970s days to their 1980s metal sound. although they have always embraced a hard rock/heavy metal sound. For their second live album, Priest...Live!, they focus on their material from British Steel (1980) and on. This is the Judas Priest that I have fallen in love with when I first heard them. Even when the band took on a more commercial sound on their Turbo album, they never forsook the metal format. Rob Halford has one of the greatest voices in rock music ever, and it is especially cemented into metal history on this album. His metallic screams put trailblazer Ian Gillan to shame and his natural raw power is unparalleled. Love Bites, Turbo Lover, Some Heads are Gonna Roll and The Sentinel are only a small fraction of what this amazing live document has to offer. A must have for any metal fan.
26. KISS - KISS Alive II, (1977).
This album has one of my favorite album covers as well, the KISS logo has never looked better. Many would say, (even KISS), that KISS' first live album, Alive! was superior, but I don't agree. KISS Alive II rocks harder, the energy is electric and with the inclusion of five new killer tracks from the band is an added bonus. KISS Alive II covers the era in KISS music that is truly classic. With albums like Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over and Love Gun to pull your material from, you know it's going to be a fiery set list. The live version of God of Thunder is much more powerful with this sped up tempo, Makin' Love has an even hotter guitar solo from Ace Frehley, Detroit Rock City only sounds right to me with the introduction of KISS to the stage. Plus the CD comes with KISS tattoos, how much more rock and roll can you get?
27. Led Zeppelin - How the West Was Won, (1993).
This live document is a welcome and refreshing alternative to the band's The Song Remains the Same live album, which portrayed Led Zeppelin as much more boring than the band actually was. This live recording was collected from a couple of California shows in 1972 during their Houses of the Holy tour, an ideal point in their recording career. The release was a massive three-CD release (unless you were lucky enough to snag one of the now out of print DVD-audio versions which was two discs), which truly showcased the power of Led Zeppelin as a live band. Over The Hills and Far Away, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, and of one of my favorites The Ocean are excellent highlights and a fine excuse to make any best live album list.
28. John Lennon - Live in New York City, (1986).
Recorded in August of 1972, this was solo artist John Lennon's last full-length concert performance. Lennon had released his first solo album Live Peace In Toronto 1969 before The Beatles had officially broken up and his short set left a lot to be desired. His Some Time in New York City album was a double album, with the first disc filled with his and Yoko's naive and insipid collection of political songs. The live disc is filled with songs that Lennon fans wouldn't know such as Au, Scumbag and Jamrag and a couple more tracks left over from their 1969 shows. The only salvageable song from these songs is a cover song called Well (Baby Please Don't Go). So here we have Live in New York City, which was released six years after Lennon's murder by Yoko Ono. For the CD, thankfully Yoko edited out her songs to give John's fans a set list of Lennon songs only. Lennon and the Elephant's Memory rehearsed for this show, but it still sounds very unpolished and amateurish almost like a bad Lennon cover band. While there are some songs that do sound pretty good, like Mother where Lennon's vocals rival that of the 1970 studio version, yet he and the band butcher the one Beatles cover Come Together to a near unlistenable low. Almost as bad is Hound Dog and the chaotic Woman is the Nigg*r of the World. Focus instead on the version of Instant Karma and Cold Turkey. I would have loved to hear a couple of more Imagine songs in this list aside from the title track, like How Do You Sleep or Oh My Love. So although Lennon claims to have rehearsed for these shows, it appears that rehearsal time was poorly spent with smoking joints instead of playing these songs. It sure doesn't compare to McCartney's live outings or Harrison’s Bangladesh, but it is the only document of a full-length concert from the former Beatle. At the same time, this could easily go on somebody's list for 'worst live albums ever'.
29. Bob Marley - Babylon By Bus, (1978).
Arguably this is the best live record of The Wailers out of the four released. The performance was recorded in France in 1978 except for two tracks; Rat Race (recorded in 1976), which was written by Bob's wife Rita, and Stir It Up (recorded in 1975). Perhaps these two earlier recordings were added to fill the space of a double LP. While it's true that the more well Known classics from Marley are not present (I Shot The Sheriff, No Woman, No Cry or Get Up, Stand Up), but the inclusion of Concrete Jungle which showcases Aston Barrett's amazing bass lines, or the incredibly tight performance of Heathen qualify as instant classics. A big highlight is the nearly eight minute jam of Is This Love?
30. Paul McCartney & Wings - Wings Over America, (1976).
After the break-up of The Beatles in 1970, the four members had to find their footing again as solo artists. Fans and critics of the band fantasized about the boys reuniting again since McCartney announced that The Beatles were no more. Whenever interviewed, John, Paul, George and Ringo seemed to want to distance themselves from anything Beatles, perhaps in order to be taken seriously as a solo artist. In 1976, McCartney toured the world with his band Wings, a successful outfit in their own right. One of the best things about Wings Over America is that McCartney embraces his Beatle past much to the delight of the fans with new renditions of some of the more memorable songs he had written for The Beatles, like Lady Madonna, I've Just Seen A Face, The Long and Winding Road, and of course Yesterday among others. Like a bonus, McCartney had added to his amazing list of songs since he's been gone from The Beatles. New classics like Silly Love Songs, Band on the Run, Maybe I'm Amazed, Let Me Roll It, Listen to What the Man Said and Bluebird are just as enjoyable as The Beatles classics. There was enough room for Wings to play around and give us a cover or two; one was Go Now a hit from Wings guitarist Denny Laine's previous band The Moody Blues, and a terrific version of Simon and Garfunkel's Richard Corey.
31. Metallica - Live Sh*t: Binge and Purge (1993).
Toward the end of 1993, the band that made millions by bringing speed metal to the masses had released a massive three-CD set of the past four years of tours during a busy and productive era in their musical career. Metallica is another well-loved band and the fans love most if not all their songs from every album, and Live Sh*t does a valiant job of encompassing their entire back catalog in order to please even the hardest core of their fans. I personally would have liked to have Fight Fire with Fire, (one of my favorites), but I still find this to be a great album. James Hetfield proves himself to be a formidable frontman in his own right as he instantly holds the audience in the palm of his hand, ordering them to cuss on command and more. For me, some of the highlights include One, Battery, Master of Puppets, Through the Never and of course the Queen cover Stone Cold Crazy.
32. George Michael - Five Live (1993).
After George's fabulous sophomore effort, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 was released in 1990, the artist kept himself busy with world tours and his lawsuit with Sony Records for the most part. In April of 1992, George was asked to perform at the concert memorial for Queen's lead singer, Freddie Mercury, who had died five months earlier. Of all the artists filling in for the legendary singer, George Michael was the star of the show. His impressive vocal skills wowed the massive Wembley audience on the three songs he performed that night, Those Were the Days of Our Lives, Somebody to Love and '39. When George Michael decided to issue a souvenir CD from the concert of his involvement, he omitted his '39 rendition and added a couple of performances from other shows from his tour. The best of these is the phenomenal medley Killer/Papa Was a Rollin' Stone. The arrangement of Seal's Killer coupled with The Temptations' Papa was flawless. He included another cover called Calling You from the soundtrack of Bagdad Cafe. Only five songs on this EP, but it's the only live compilation we have from Michael so far, and in my opinion it ranks among the best of the best.
33. Motley Crue - Live: Entertainment or Death, (1999).
This is another pastiche live album that was pieced together over the years of their career. The Crue have one other live album, Carnival of Sins in which Vince Neil seems incapable of finishing a sentence and didn't even seem to be able to make words. This is a fine alternative, and the material covered is outstanding. This is a double disc covering songs from their first five classic albums, especially their first two releases Too Fast For Love and Shout at the Devil. I love that the whole first disc is dedicated to their first two releases as these two are my favorite. Starry Eyes and Merry-Go-Round are two rare deep cuts from their first album, which sound live, loud and raw here. Even on the second disc, the band picks only the best songs from those next three albums and includes it here, although I would have liked to hear City Boy Blues. Actually now that I think of how this wasn't included, it's a bit odd as when I had seen the Crue on their Theatre of Pain tour, I could have sworn that they played that song twice that night. But I have no complaints really, this is a great album.
34. Nirvana - Unplugged in New York, (1994).
Kurt Cobain and Nirvana had almost single-handedly changed the musical landscape with their alternative form of grunge rock when they released Nevermind back in 1991. Lead singer and songwriter Kurt Cobain had killed himself about two and a half years later making him instant legendary status in rock music. Unplugged in New York is the first release following his suicide, and his live acoustic renditions seemed to have fared even better than the original studio versions. Come As You Are instantly became and then remained a classic rock radio staple as well as the David Bowie cover The Man Who Sold the World. In a sense, MTV was one of the main factors in the launching Nirvana into superstardom, and so I feel it becomes a fitting epitaph that their MTV Unplugged album was such a beautiful swan song. Other highlights include About a Girl, Polly, Something In the Way and Where Did You Sleep Last Night.
35. Ozzy Osbourne - Tribute, (1987).
Ozzy was to originally release this in 1982, but with the unexpected and tragic death of his friend and guitarist Randy Rhodes, it was shelved instead as Ozzy thought it would have been in bad taste to profit off of Randy's death. Ozzy released Speak of the Devil that year, which is also a live album but with material pulled only from his Black Sabbath days, and with a different guitarist. When enough time has passed, Ozzy had finally released the original live album in 1987, and he aptly entitled it Tribute. This could have been called "Blizzard of Ozz Live", as it has the entire album in the live format, including a rare outtake of Randy's classical acoustic instrumental Dee. I personally would have loved to hear Over the Mountain, You Can't Kill Rock and Roll or the title track from his second album Diary of a Madman here as well with Rhodes on guitar, but I guess I can't complain noting that there is a scarcity of material with Rhodes available anyway. The live version of Crazy Train was released as a single, and it was the reason that cemented my initial yen for the product when it first came out. Flying High Again, and Suicide Solution sound amazing. I do like Sabbath, but I appreciate the fact that only three of the thirteen live tracks focused on that era, but instead focused on the music that Randy and Ozzy had made together.
36. P!nk - Funhouse Tour: Live in Australia, (2009).
Pink is one of my favorite artists as of late. Her Funhouse album is in constant rotation right now in my car/house/work areas, and with the release of her live tour, it's the natural progression that this makes its way into the constant rotation as well. Aside from some cool live renditions of songs from her latest album, she includes one older cut U UR Hand, and a couple of cover songs from the classic rock era. She tackles Led Zeppelin's Babe I'm Gonna Leave You as well as the practically-impossible-to-do-live-song Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. The album proves that Pink is a live act that can wail with the best of the greats.
37. Pink Floyd - Delicate Sound of Thunder, (1988).
This album is from the A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour, two musical bookmarks in Pink Floyd's history that mark the beginning of the David Gilmour era of the band. In 1985, bassist and major songwriter contributor to the band left to pursue a solo career and just to get the heck away from Gilmour. Delicate Sound contains along with five of the ten tracks from Momentary Lapse, some fine Pink Floyd classics mainly from their most popular albums The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon. The set list snubs its nose at Water's The Final Cut LP, which is just fine with the fans as most of them didn't care much for it initially. A Momentary Lapse of Reason sounded like a slightly updated classic Floyd, and the result is that Delicate Sound of Thunder contains the elements to please fans of the Dark Side, Wishing You Were Here days. New songs like the hit Learning to Fly and also Yet Another Movie shows that Gilmour's heart and soul were all about Pink Floyd. The band covered the most successful and most beloved tracks with the inclusion of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Us and Them, Time, and Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2, plus some more older and new classics.
38. The Police - Live! (1995).
With a double CD release of live music from The Police, it's most likely that one of your favorite Police songs is included here. The band only released 5 albums (fifty-four songs) in their short career, and there are thirty-songs here on Live!. Despite the fact that they repeat three songs on disc two (this live album is from two different tours, 1979 and 1983), this pretty much covers their whole career if you don't mind overlooking the overt omissions of tracks from Ghost in the Machine. Ever since The Police emerged on the scene in 1978, they have been very successful, and that's where they left it when they disbanded in 1984. I like the fact that these shows were taken from their heyday when they were still a working unit. The tensions may have been present, but the energy and excitement is just as strong and it shines through. Highlights: King of Pain, Wrapped Around Your Finger, So Lonely, Message In A Bottle.
39. Elvis Presley - Memories: The '68 Comeback Special, (1998).
The King of Rock and Roll had a spotty career at best as we can now comfortably sit back and look at it in its historical point of view. In 1956, the 21 year old had found stardom unlike any star before him. Only two short years later he was inducted into the US Army, and upon his honorable discharge in 1960 he returned to his career mostly in films. In 1968 he started his comeback strategy with a television special he brokered with the NBC network. Elvis wanted to remind his audience that he was still that same rebel from 1956 by performing medleys of old fan favorites and even looking the part, dressed from head to toe in black leather like a panther waiting to pounce. Over the last two or three years Presley had seemed like a has-been to these new kind of music fans who have now grown up with The Beatles instead of Presley, yet when Elvis aired on December 3rd 1968, not only did Elvis make the naysayers eat their words, but he now seemed like a contemporary of these newer and younger artists. For the show’s 30th anniversary, in 1998 there was an extended version of the soundtrack simply titled Elvis, (note the similarity to the 1968 release from the Beatles that year, simply named The Beatles), and named it Memories: The ’68 Comeback Special. This extended release has awesome classic cuts like That’s Alright Mama, Don’t Be Cruel, Blue Suede Shoes along with the original album tracks like Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, All Shook Up and more. The Christmas songs are OK, but it’s the intimate concert setting, which resembled the unplugged shows that MTV made famous in the late 80s/early 90s, that had once again proved to the world that Elvis could still perform as he strove to retain his title of king.
40. Prince - One Night Alone...Live, (2002).
Prince had released the studio album One Night Alone only online, and so it is virtually unknown except for the most fanatical Prince bunch, if there is still such a breed. His first live release One Night Alone...Live seems to cover much of his career, yet the focus is mainly on his years with The New Power Generation. This was spread out onto three discs and it contains thirty-six songs and sold at a very high price, and now it seems to have disappeared from any department store shelves. The Prince fans from his musical peak (circa 1982 - 1987) will probably jump at the chance to own a live recording of deep cut favorites such as Take Me With You, Raspberry Beret, The Beautiful Ones, Sometimes It Snows In April, Free, Girls and Boys, Starfish and Coffee and more. For most of these classic songs, the almighty (sarcastic) Prince only feels the need to tease the audience with shortened renditions of their favorite songs while his more recent crap like Avalanche gets the extended treatment. Prince, was he ashamed of his heyday? Why is he pushing the horrible new stuff on his audience? Why did I include a record from such an elitist artist who seems to scoff in the face and ears of his adoring crowd? Well, Prince once was a fabulous and creative artist, and this record is the only live record released from him. It still will please the real fans, the older crowd who has loved his timeless music that he created back in the eighties. You just have to fast forward through his pretentious garbage. Quote from Purple Rain: Oh Buddy..what an effin waste... He couldn't have been more right.
41. Queen - Live Killers, (1979).
Despite the negative reviews this album received from critics, I find that Live Killers is surely one of the greatest live albums available. Most of the criticism derived from the fact that Queen had left the stage during Bohemian Rhapsody during the operatic segment of the song and the band let the studio recording play instead of them. Is this a cheap move? Probably, but it doesn't warrant the harsh unfairness it has received. The album as a whole really rocks. On this album we have an awesome "fast version" of We Will Rock You, and the sing-a-longs like Spread Your Wings, Now I'm Here and especially the ballad Love of My Life which should surely make up for any hard feelings that the minute of Bo Rhap produced in those critics. This is Queen's greatest live album, recorded at the absolute pinnacle of their rock and roll heyday.
42. Radiohead - I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, (2001).
It may only contain eight songs, but with a running length of around forty-one minutes it houses a lifetime of live music entertainment, perhaps more than just a slight nod to The Who's Live at Leeds album (original). Maybe, like The Who had done, Radiohead will one day release this a few more times, each time longer than the last. The National Anthem owns a single monotonous groove, which is aimed to heighten your illegal drug-induced stupor. Johnny Greenwood's guitar noises remind me of Brian May from Queen's Get Down Make Live from fourteen years before. Idioteque is stripped down to the basics, where lead singer Thom Yorke is heard singing the verses accompanied only by an insane drumbeat. My favorite highlight of this album is Everything Is In It's Right Place. The vocal gymnastics in the center of the song effectively create a psychotic atmosphere, where it's hard to believe this is not a studio creation and that they're actually creating this sound live. The audience eats it up here evidentially from the high volume of their cheers. Radiohead is a band that may sound a bit unidimensional as far as this album goes, and Thom Yorke tends to sound like a muppet whose testicles are being tortured in a voice when he sings, but you cannot deny their live energy, and the creativity that exudes from each track.
43. Rolling Stones - Get Yer Ya Ya's Out, (1970).
The Stones haven't toured in about two years due to inner-band problems with their druggie guitarist Bryan Jones, as well as just another aping of The Beatles who have stopped touring 9 months before The Stones had. Well, with two new albums since their last tour (especially Beggar's Banquet), the band had some of the best material of their career to showcase in a live setting, not to mention a couple of killer singles (Jumpin Jack Flash and Honky Tonk Women). The band also had a new album (Let It Bleed) due out in just a couple of weeks at the time these performances were recorded. The NYC audiences were able to groove along with a couple of classic Stones songs while getting a preview of some of their new music. Get Yer Ya Ya's Out also marks the installation of guitarist Mick Taylor, who replaced the deceased Bryan Jones.
44. Rush - Exit...Stage Left, (1981).
This is Canadian band Rush's second live album, superior to the first All the World's A Stage mainly because of the superior material Rush had to work with. Most notably the songs performed from their then recent release Moving Pictures, namely Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta and instrumental track YYZ, (although not a live version here). YYZ includes the drum solo that launched a myriad of wannabe drummers and also upped the bar for drum solos in the live concerts of the 1980's heavy metal bands. It's a shame that Limelight is not included, but here we have perfect renditions of Closer to the Heart, The Trees, and Freewill.
45. Simon & Garfunkel - Concert In Central Park, (1981).
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel have a relatively short recording career yet they have amassed a little bundle of songs in their back catalog of LPs released in the 60s and early 1970s. It's a rare thing to have such a body of work to showcase, only a very few bands can claim such a thing. Yet when the duo reunited, a little over 10 years to perform an historical concert in New York's Central Park, they gave their fans nearly 90 minutes of fantastic sounds. Yet they didn't leave out Paul Simon's equally brilliant 70s solo career either. Hearing Art Garfunkel harmonize to Kodachrome, Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard, Late in the Evening and more is sublime. It sounds as if the songs were written with the foreknowledge of Garfunkel singing along to these songs at one point. Some of my favorite highlights for me aside from those mentioned above include April Come She Will, Scarborough Fair, The Boxer and America.
46. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Live 1975-1985, (1986).
By no means am I ever to be called even a casual fan of Springsteen and his E Street Band, but there is no way to deny such a fine example of giving the fans something with much substance. Three CDs, almost four hours of music full of Springsteen's best stuff from his career up until that point in 1985, which is maybe his best stuff anyway. This box set was wildly successful, and even produced a couple of singles, most notably Fire, a song written by Bruce but made famous by The Pointer Sisters with their 1979 cover version. Highlights include: Hungry Heart, Bandlands, Because the Night, Racing in the Street and Jersey Girl.
47. Steely Dan - Alive In America, (1995).
Steely Dan's first live album came years after they stopped touring and even broken up as a group. When the band reunited for a new tour and eventually a new album, they discovered that the folks were still very much into Steely Dan, a band that stopped making music together in 1980, and who hasn’t toured since 1974. The tour was very successful, and the record company and the band must have figured a live souvenir would probably be a safe way to cash in as well as the tours had been. The band seems to have aged a lot since their heyday. The songs are slowed down a bit, and the arrangements are a little different and sometimes extended, but the band still grooves. The run through a slew of their much-loved catalog like Reelin' In The Years, Aja and Kid Charlemagne and they get the audience excited with fan favs such as Josie, Green Earrings and Sign In Stranger. Guitarist/bassist Walter Becker bores his listeners with one of his solo tracks Book of Liars, but it's mostly a fun time.
48. Styx - Caught in the Act, (1983).
This album ended up acting as a live swan song for the pop rock band Styx. Caught in the Act was released quickly on the heels of their successful Kilroy Was Here release with the hits Mr. Roboto and Don't Let It End. This live show captures the sheer musicianship that Styx possessed as they effortlessly tackles some pretty intricate musical and vocal arrangements. This show also encapsulates the body of work, (although briefly) from the past ten or so years despite some unforgivable omissions. Some of my favorite highlights include the classics Mr. Roboto, Rocking the Paradise, Blue Collar Man and Come Sail Away. Yet having said that, the best song for me here is Music Time, a studio track written by lead singer Dennis DeYoung. It only barely cracked the Top 40 here in the US, but it stands as one of my favorite all-time Styx tunes.
49. Supertramp, Paris, (1980).
This album was recorded during their European Breakfast In America tour in 1979. This is one of those albums that reminds me of the Columbia House days when they sold you vinyl. I remember my mother getting this album in the mail, and I listened to it all of the time. My favorite track was Take the Long Way Home, and my other favorites seemed to be spread out far apart on the four sides of the records. Nowadays, I love most of the tracks I couldn't appreciate when I was younger. I like both Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson as songwriters and singers, but I lean more toward Hodgson. I love his high-singing voice, which is something I usually despise. The Logical Song is almost too catchy, Breakfast In America is sublime, and Bloody Well Right, Crime of The Century and Rudy must also all be experienced in this live setting. Rumor is that we should be expecting a remastered CD and or DVD release soon. That would be awesome.
50. The Who - Live At Leeds, (1970).
For most of their career, (and then some), The Who had been often hailed by fans and critics as the greatest live act around. It's only fitting to include their only live album by the original band. The Who is an English band that appeared on the scene in 1965 as part of the original infamous British Invasion. While many of the British Invasion bands have come and gone, and some forgotten, The Who have stood out almost from the beginning as unique and different which aided in their legendary endurance and respect they so rightly have earned. Although The Who has been recording together originally for seventeen years, their original albums have been relatively few. Live at Leeds is released in the middle of 1970, which wraps up nicely the first stage (the 60s) of their career. The original vinyl release (and CD release) include six songs and only three of them were Who songs. Most notably, Summertime Blues is included, an old 50s song that the band resurrected and had given a more raucous rendition than that of the original and Blue Cheer had done. My Generation takes up most of the original release at a lengthy 14:27, and Magic Bus also gets a rocking jamming with Keith Moon supplying some mind-bending drum fills. The original Live at Leeds ignores all of the Tommy material performed until the deluxe CDs were released. Yet even the original six songs are loud, ballsy and pure British rock.
Yes - Yessongs, (1973).
The Doors - Absolutely Live (1971).
Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive (1976).
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